It has been a long, long time since I beat the shit out of somebody just because they deserved it. In fact, I'm pretty sure the last time was the winter of 8th Grade and that the person was my brother- I had baked a batch of Christmas cookies for my Grandparents and my dirty rotten bother stole them and took them to his homeroom class for their Xmas party. When I discovered his misdeed, I punched him out as best I could, which really wasn't very much of a beating- I was plenty pissed, but he was still my brother and I didn't really want to harm him, I just wanted him to know that he fucked up when he messed with my Grannie treats. He needed a lesson in respect and he got one, albeit a totally wimpy version. I mostly sat on his back and punched his shoulders, if I recall...anyway.
Why am I telling you this? Because this morning I came as close to getting in a punch-up as I've been since I quit drinking, and it was all about respect. Or lack thereof.
A few weeks ago I was out on a date (with a woman that I'm still dating) and while we were out, we ran into J, the guy who fills the snack machines at my office. J is a big fat Jamaican who I usually enjoy shooting the shit with when he makes his rounds- he's a funny , if a bit obnoxious chap. Which is fine.
He stopped and said hello to me and kept going, which was diplomatic of him. I was on a date after all, and it would have been rude to interrupt us...so far, so good, right? J is an alright dude, eh?
Well, I saw him this morning for the first time since that chance encounter and he asked me a very rude 'dude' question. I generally don't get into that sort of discussion with guys, so I pretended not to hear him until he asked me a second time.
"No, nothing like that", I replied tersely. I had overslept and missed my shave, shower and coffee- I was in no mood for manly trifles.
Then he said something that I really didn't like and won't repeat here.
"Look", I started in on J, "there was a time when I'd have been OK with that. But that was a long time ago and I'm not an out-of-control fucked-up kid anymore. Before any of what you described happens, I want to be sure that I like and respect the other person. And vice versa. That takes time, it isn't a contest or a race, it is a long-term two-way project. That isn't what you are talking about. You are just talking about meaningless fuckery."
J looked at me as if I were crazy, and perhaps I am. Ten years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be dispensing angry, improvised lectures on the virtues of chivalry to a chauvinistic Jamaican truck driver in the break room of a high-rise office building.
"Women don't want to be respected", J told me.
Then he elaborated on how women really want to be treated. His description began with "Like pigs..." and got worse with every word. It was unbelievably ugly and it made me want to punch him, but the sad thing is, there are women who do feel that way about themselves- my mother was one- and J had learned to identify that characteristic in women and to exploit it for his own personal gratification. He was a sexual parasite and proud of it.
"You are turning bright red", observed J.
He was right. I was so angered by his callous display of sexism and and gleeful tales of degradation that I was having what almost amounted to an out-of-body experience. I wasn't exactly sure what my body was going to do- it looked like I was getting ready to throw a punch at J, which would probably have been a big mistake, since he is a full foot taller than myself and outweighs me by at least 120 pounds.
So I walked away and went back to my cubicle to drink coffee and think about abusive men and the women that they attract. Abusive men always seem to have at least one girlfriend and/or wives, so there must be plenty of women with the requisite psychological damage needed to fill those roles. That really sucks.
My new friend is not like that. She's very pretty and of course I'm attracted to that, but it her person-ness that has earned my respect. Out of that respect , I am not going to blog any details about her except for a few positive things that really took me by surprise:
- She's a good mother. That might sound like no big deal to some people, but I find it to be a very attractive trait. That's new to me.
- She'd probably laugh uncontrollably and question my judgement if she were to read this, but I think she manages her time very well. That says a lot about a person. A lot good.
- She remembered my birthday and is taking me out to celebrate it! Happy!
I spent my last birthday alone in a Fort Lauderdale hotel, stuck on a shitty business trip. I just checked my blog from 2009- I don't even mention my birthday at all, so I'm guessing I didn't do anything that year...in 2008 there's a brief , depressed mention but no celebration. I did find a short story I wrote- it is a dark piece, but also one of my personal favorites (reposted here). I'd forgotten about it...I bet I could publish at least two books if I went back through all my old archives. Later for that. My point is, my birthday is usually a non-event.
This year is a little different. I'm looking forward to my 45th birthday. Friday I'll be engineering a live studio performance by a small Gamelan orchestra, after which I'll be treated to dinner by a beautiful woman...so that kinda rocks as far as days go.
Next week is our station's Fund Drive and I'll be engineering a LOT of live shows as our DJs pull out the stops during our pleading period- we don't have advertisers, so we rely on listener donations- without them, I wouldn't have been able to air this fabulous broadcast:
THE NEW BREAKFAST SNOB: 9/10/2011
Originally aired on WRIR-97.3 FM Richmond
Helios Creed- Dimension 5
King Crimson- Prozack Blues (live)
Brian Eno- King's Lead Hat
The Purrs- Feeling Fine
Be Bop Deluxe- Love With The Madman
Stackridge- Marzo Plod
Joni Mitchell- You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio)
Captain Beefheart- This Is The Day (live)
Pink Floyd- Pigs on the Wing
Mothers of Invention- Directly From My Heart To You
Angelfish- King Of The World
David Bowie- Beauty and the Beast
The Kinks- Powerman
Funkadelic- Nappy Dugout
The Stranglers- Go Buddy Go
The Tubes- I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk (live)
Elvis Costello- Stella Hurt
Oingo Boingo- Whole Day Off
Crack The Sky- Skin Deep
Of Montreal- Everything Dissappears (When You Come Around)
Cursive- Making Friends and Acquaintances
Bird York - What Are You Running After?
Cat Dail- Squeeze Your Play
Elu- Beautiful Things
Kalliopi- Summer Is Over
Iron Butterfly- Stamped Ideas
Gong- How To Survive